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Picker heaven found in New Westminster
It was a quiet winter’s day when Tony Peric got a phone call out of the blue last January.
The voice at the other end was a producer for the show Canadian Pickers. But Peric had trouble believing the call was for real. That’s because the reality show—starring Scott Cozens and Sheldon Smithens of Calgary who travel the country looking for treasures in people’s junk—is Peric’s favourite.
“I watch it all the time. I thought it was a prank,” said the owner of Tony’s Used Building Materials on 12th Street.
It was no joke.
Some producers from the popular show, in its third season on The History Channel, arrived a couple of days later to take pictures. Then one snowy morning a few days later, Cozens and Smithens showed up at his store’s door. The segment on their visit aired for the first time on Monday, and will be repeated several times this week.
“They bought a lot of stuff off of me,” said Peric, who also runs a demolition business. “They’re really nice guys.”
Peric, who signed a confidentiality agreement until the show aired, said he sold even more to Cozens and Smithens than was shown. And even more to the film crew afterward. Peric threw the pair for a loop a couple of times by asking for high prices to start with. Cozens was stunned when Peric asked $800 for a green neon sign hanging in the side window that simply said TV and resembled the old TV Guide logo. Eventually they shook hands on $425. He said he also got a couple of eight-foot bucksaws used by loggers out of the deal, but that part of the transaction wasn’t included in the show.
“I think I took them because I knew they would lowball me, so I just raised the prices on them. So I got everything I wanted,” said Peric, who has heard Cozens and Smithens were able to resell the sign for $800.
Cozens and Smithens also took a liking to a big red tool sign with a wrench through it that was hanging in his store, as well as a gumball machine and a petrified bat encased in a glass frame, something he never thought he’d ever be able to sell.
“They’re really nice guys,” said Peric. “They loved my store … I think I did pretty good.”
He did admit to taking a while to get adjusted to being on television.
“There’s no script, whatever comes out of your mouth so I was kind of nervous with three or four microphones and cameras in your face,” said Peric.
On the show, Cozens can be seen climbing up and over the accumulation of inventory Peric has stuffed into every nook, cranny and shelf—ceiling to floor—in his little store.
“He’s a climber. He worries me, I thought he was going to fall. He jumps around like a little rabbit,” said Peric.
Peric has been a long-time picker himself. He started when he was a kid accompanying his father to yard sales, garage sales and the like to stock the shelves of the family store which Peric took over after his dad’s death.
“Anything I saw I could make money on I bought. And that was something I learned as a kid just watching my dad,” said Peric.
That’s why ever since American Pickers first started appearing on television a few years ago, followed by Canadian Pickers, he’s been a fan. He prefers the Canuck version.
“The Canadian one is getting really, really popular. I run into a lot of people who watch it now. My little nephew watches it all the time and he’s eight years old,” said Peric.
The show is so popular it’s quickly made Tony’s place quite popular, too.
“I’ve had so many people come in who said they saw me or phone me and say they now want to come in and see the store,” said Peric less than 48 hours after its debut.